I spent 10 years of my life in karaoke bars -- first as a patron, and later as a paid karaoke host, where my job wasn’t just to keep the audience’s energy up, but to try to figure out from clues like song choice, vibe, and confidence level whether a performer would win the crowd over or completely lose the room. You may be surprised to learn that that doesn’t mean I’d try to figure out whether they were going to be a good singer, but rather whether they’d be good at karaoke -- a completely different metric.
On any given night, a trained singer could get up and belt out a Celine Dion song and bore everyone to death, while a terrible singer who was great at karaoke (that is to say: kept the audience engaged, had a sense of humor about themselves, and was fun to watch) could win over the night.
With that in mind, here’s a list of 10 standby songs for any terrible singers wanting to stretch into karaoke territory. Some of them require actual singing. Others are mainly instrumental. But the key element to all of them is that they allow the performer to have fun without worrying about whether or not he or she or they are hitting the right notes 100% of the time. That’s not -- and has never -- been the point of doing great karaoke.
Oh, and one more note: regardless of whether you’re a good or bad singer, “American Pie” is the worst karaoke song of all time. It’s 5 whole minutes longer than you think it is, you don’t know all the lyrics, and if you sign up for it I’ll glare at you all night and push you down the list as far as I can. Don’t.